Fiji's military leader says elections to be held in 2010

Fiji's military ruler announced Tuesday he will call elections in 2010 to restore parliamentary rule in the coup-prone South Pacific country.

Armed forces chief Commodore Frank Bainimarama, who installed himself as prime minister after ousting the elected government last Dec. 5, issued a statement setting out a timetable for the country to return to democratic rule.

"Under this roadmap Fiji will be ready for a general election and a full restoration of parliamentary democracy in 2010," Bainimarama said.

The plan takes into account the need to restore Fiji's poorly performing economy and stabilize government finances, and reflects the military's "aspiration" to remove corruption from government, Bainimarama said.

Bainimarama installed what he said was an interim government after the military seized power from Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase in a bloodless coup, the AP reports.

Bainimarama said he was compelled to act against the government because corruption had flourished under Qarase, and because of proposed laws that would grant pardons to plotters in a 2000 coup and hand lucrative land rights to indigenous Fijians at the expense of the large ethnic Indian minority.

Bainimarama has said he plans to restore democracy through elections, but has not previously set a timeframe.

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